Maybe it is because Catalina still lays their hull up by hand?
Or maybe it is because they use solid teak interiors (very, very expensive) versus plastic laminated wood that falls off the cabinets at the boat shows?
Or maybe it is because in their layup schedule, they use E/S glass and even kevlar on high stress areas?
Or maybe it is because they oversize their hardware and amount of it? Compare, size for size, just the winches of a Catalina versus a Bene or other production boat (though Hunter is doing better).
Or maybe it is because they hold their value better. My boat is currently worth at least as much as I paid for it - and I bought it NEW!!!!! How many of you can make that boast? Now, given the maintenance and all the improvements that I have done, I am still in a black hole!!!! However, I could sell her tomorrow and not write a check to get rid of her. Pull the price on 400's and compare to the selling price.
I have long argued that Catalina needs to keep the same level of quality on their boats and if it costs more to make... then it costs more to make. That is why I have been a bit frustrated with their recent changes and shortfall of cabinetry. Still teak, but fewer cabinets. I do not mena to sit here and sound like Catalina is making better boats than Bene or Jeauneau and start a inner-forum war. But they do have a different philosophy on their products (or did). I think Hunter Marine is also trying to implement many of those philosophies. I think there would be a nice niche for a boat that cost a bit more than a bene/Jeaunea/(name your production boat), but would hold its value better and be and be better equipped.
Here is a bit about construction, taken directly from a writeup:
Now that fiberglass boat construction has a half century history, it’s appropriate to call Catalina’s building methods “traditional “.Major structures are laid up by hand female molds (the molds are built in-house), and hulls are solid glass. The first lamination into the mold after the ISO/NPG gelcoat is a vinylester skin coat that acts as a barrier against moisture. Structural layers that follow are primarily E-glass with a percentage of S-glass, using mostly knitted laminates, which have more strength for their weight than woven laminates. At the California plant, high-density foam stringers are glassed into the hulls (above); at the Florida plant, hulls of 35 to 47 feet are fitted with a structural grid. Chopper guns are used for some non-structural components, such as iceboxes Parts that benefit from being finished on two sides are constructed with resin-transfer molding (RTM), a vacuum process that saves weight and reduces emissions.
Decks are the first structures to appear on the factory floor. (above). Except for dinghies under 16 feet (built with all-vinylester resins and foam-cored decks), decks are laid up with a balsa core with plywood or solid glass substituted for balsa wherever stanchions and other gear will be through-bolted. The solid coring is insurance against water intrusion. Metal backing plates, either aluminum or brass, are molded in to increase strength and spread the loads. When hardware is mounted later in the build process, an anti-seizing compound is used on fasteners so that they can be removed some day, if need be (below). Decks incorporate Kevlar reinforcing at the corners, and multiple mats are laid in for vertical reinforcing. For rigidity, decks are structurally bonded to interior overhead liners, leaving deck and liner as a single structure. The surface of the liner serves as a finished overhead for the interior.
On models built in California, engine and interior components are passed below for installation into a completed shell of hull and deck. Obviously, those parts have to pass through one hatchway or another to get there, so they can also come back out for repairs when the time comes. Douglas (in yellow shirt) says it’s a company goal to make a boat that is very repairable; all parts can be removed using hand tools and without disturbing other elements. The company makes an effort to sell replacement parts for all models, no matter how old, and Douglas touts Catalinas as good project boats for someone looking to rescue a fixer-upper. It would be cheaper to run plastic trim around the transom-hull joint, but the extra hours to create a seamless transition “are worth it for the look,” Douglas says.
Catalina builds its 310, 350, 387, 400, and 470 models at its plant in Largo, Florida, where interiors are constructed in open hulls prior to the deck installation. Heads in Florida-built boats are built as modules and dropped into place whole. Large hatches still assure that all mechanical and interior parts are removable. Boats built on both coasts have bulkheads fixed with adhesives and fasteners to act as transverse diaphragms while carrying no rigging loads.
THings I feel they could improve upon:
THey could tab bulkheads. I think that would be better but would obviously considerably increase cost. They currently use a deck molded "Ridge" or "rib" for one side of the bulkead (3/4 inch teak ply with marine grade interior), which is fastened every few inches mechanically. One benefit of this is that you can remove the bulkhead for repair, I guess much easier than if she had been tabbed.
I feel they could make the wire (and especially the plumbing, like for the head waste hose) better access. Instead of completely changing how they lay them up - keep the same design but put lockers or access points along the run to make life easier. They are all accessible, but the head discharge especially is a real pain. THere are some water runs that are difficult to pull given the grid structure which is both a blessing and a curse. Compared to a Tayana where the hull does not require a grid, wire and plumbing runs are a breeze (well, comparitively).
More cabinetry - especially on the newer boats. Doing it aftermarket is much more labor and time intensive. How many of you wouldn't pay an extra... $5,000 or so (on a $200,000+ boat) to have every square inch of available space utilized? I certainly would. It would also make system access easier.
More access to hull via removeable floorboards. They use a grid structure with a liner on top. They do this for strength and rigidity. They do put some access points via floor boards. However, there is a lot of space that is not utilized which requires after market work to utilize it.
Fractional or cutter rig option or hey... let's even throw in a ketch!!! Wouldn't it be nice to have the option of choosing your preferred rig? I realize that this would change the design of the boat, but as different people have different purposes in mind, I think it would open up more people to their boats. Of course, I know no one that does this... so this is just dreaming.
Different portholes. I strongly prefer the SS screw down dog types for a variety of reasons. I know there are owners that have pulled out their plastic portlights and replaced with these. It is on my wishlist, honestly. I have had them leak on previous boats... not this one so far. The other swill leak too... but they are less prone to problems and certainly of stronger design.
Installing on all 32+ foot boats clip on points around the boat for Jacklines. Valiant does this. Some others do it too. You can do this yourself, but it requires considerably more time than what it would take at the factory.
If you will notice, many of my wishes revolve around my intended use for the boat. For anyone that was going to be on a lake or strictly coastal and not LA, would they care less? In fact, they would not want to pay the extra money for stuff they would never use. So maybe if you could pull your boat off the line and have some custm work done during layup, that would be helpful. Still, most of the things I have listed above are things about NONE of the production builders do. I am not picking on Catalina. For the price and product, it is a good value (in my opinion, the best). I have owned four now... and I am certainly not alone. In fact, the last guy I met that just bought a Valiant 50 (not a cheap boat folks... let me tell you) owned a Catalina 36 beforehand (and he could obviously afford about anything he wanted). So consider the loyal following they have and it might give you a fair appreciation for why their boats cost a bit more and hold their value well.
Just my thoughts. Others will dissagree, and that is fine.